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Thread: Most Unfair Treatment by Pittsburgh Fans

  1. #1
    Hall of Famer Flasteel's Avatar
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    Most Unfair Treatment by Pittsburgh Fans

    There has been quite a few mentions of Kordell on here recently and it got me to thinking how raw this guy gets treated by fans. Now I realize that many of you feel completely validated in your contempt for him, but I've always been and will continue to be in the guy's corner. I found this article which does a good job laying down the groundwork for the argument of who has been treated the worst by Pittsburgh fans. Is there anyone else you'd add to the list such as Tommy Maddox after the Jags game or Neil O'Donnel for the Superbowl picks?

    WHO HAS BEEN TREATED MORE UNFAIRLY BY PITTSBURGH SPORTS FANS: JAROMIR JAGR OR KORDELL STEWART?

    No mullets or sideline tears allowed after the jump.

    If you have ever been to a Penguins game when Jaromir Jagr was a visiting player, or if you have even the most rudimentary knowledge of the Steelers, then you have probably booed/hated/witnessed people booing and hating/dumped beer on one of these players. In a discussion of both franchises’ recent history, they are fundamental parts of any conversation and serve as two of the more controversial, hate-inspiring athletes in Pittsburgh history.

    We’ll explore why they are so hated in a moment, but first lets remember what these two players had accomplished at one point in time. For Jagr, those accomplishments read like the numbers of a Hall of Famer, and that doesn’t even count his post-Penguins days: five Art Ross Trophies, one MVP, two Lester B Pearson Trophies for MVP as voted by the players, six NHL First Team All-Star Appearances. He even won a gold and bronze medal for his homeland to boot. He had 157 points in 150 playoff games, which isn’t an overwhelming point ratio compared to some all-time greats, but when you consider that Lemieux only ever played in 107 playoff games, it becomes clear that with Jagr on the team the Pens were almost always seriously contending in the playoffs.

    Kordell’s rate of success with the team was, obviously, a little more up and down (okay, a lot), but he did do some impressive things. His first full season as a starter he went 11-5 and led four comebacks on the road. He was the team MVP in 2001 and actually is second only to Steve Young in all-time rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. With Kordell though, fans don’t remember the 80-yard touchdown against Carolina or his clutch performance in the ’95 AFC Championship against the Colts. They remember the turnovers in all the other AFC Championship games (as documented http://www.doubtaboutit.com/2007/06/ran ... osses.html ); the crying on the sidelines in Tampa; the beer shower; the rumors about his sexuality.

    But what people tend to forget is that for brief periods of time, Kordell Stewart was the epitome of cool in Pittsburgh. Random anecdote, but in gym class back then we had dots laid out in a 5 dot by 5 dot grid, with each student standing on their own dot to do “warm-ups” (I know this sounds like something out of the Wonder Years, but bear with me). Anyways, on a Friday before a huge playoff game one year, we were doing our insanely idiotic warm-up stretches when our teacher pointed out that three entire lines worth of dots had Kordell Stewart jerseys on. In fact, I am willing to bet that there are perhaps more old Kordell Stewart jerseys (albeit collecting dust in closets and attics) in Pittsburgh than any other jersey except maybe Crosby or Ben. The guy was just unfathomably cool back then.

    But you know the rest of the story: Championship game struggles, more INTs, a rarely discussed loss of speed that hurt him more than anything perhaps, the Tommy Maddox miracle and ultimate debacle (speaking of being treated unfairly, did we REALLY expect an insurance salesman to lead us to the Super Bowl?). Kordell fell off the pedestal, and Kordell fell hard.

    Jagr, on the other hand, left town of his own accord – demand, even. As far as murky circumstances go, the Jagr trade ranks right up at the top. There were questions about his relationship with Hlinka, his relationship with Mario, and his gambling problem, a habit that Sports Illustrated said was costing Jaromir half a million dollars. Whatever the reason for leaving, he cashed in at Washington for 7 years, 77 million and has been hearing boos in Pittsburgh ever since.

    But who was treated more unfairly? These two players were icons – icons – in Pittsburgh for much of the ‘90s, and as it always seems to go with ex-Pittsburgh players, they are now roundly despised. Certainly Kordell caused Pittsburghers much more anguish than Jagr, and it was Jagr who scored a handful of the biggest goals in Penguins history. The relationship with Jaromir was certainly a much easier one while he was in Pittsburgh.

    But consider the timeline of the Kordell era: universally beloved from ‘95-97, unequivocally hated from ‘98-99, gained back credibility in ’00-’01, and then became cemented as a failed Pittsburgh sports athlete thereafter. Sure his level of play varied greatly, but so did his offensive coordinator and even the position he was playing. One never heard Kordell complain as Tommy Maddox pulled the wool over our eyes, and he graciously returned to his Slash role when Kent Graham assumed the starting job.

    Despite all this, I still had lingering hatred towards Kordell up until this past spring. When Bill Cowher retired, (did you hear?) I was watching ESPN. After hearing some reaction from the NFL Live studio, who did they bring on to discuss the announcement? Kordell Stewart. He was gracious, cited his up and down times in Pittsburgh, and ultimately said that the experience made him a better person and that he liked playing for Cowher. Aside from being absolutely shocked to see Kordell talking about the Steelers, my initial reaction was regret. This man was the coolest guy in town for a few years and now here he was, seemingly haunted by the word “Pittsburgh” and, through only the greatest politeness, speaking kindly about it.

    Jagr was probably involved in 10 of my top 50 moments as a sports fan (sorry for the Bill Simmons impersonation there), but he left on a whim – maybe because of gambling, maybe because of Hlinka. Jagr comes back now hearing boos, and while I don’t boo him, it s hard not to feel as if he cashed in while cashing out Penguins fans. Meanwhile, Kordell switched positions, kept his head up, took the most intense abuse I hope to ever see from Pittsburgh sports fans, and still all these years later showed up on TV to discuss the Steelers.

    I really feel as if both these guys were treated unfairly in many regards given how much they were once loved, but is Jagr going on TV to talk about anything Penguins related? No. Jagr was one of the best athletes I have ever watched, and Kordell is one of the most frustrating. But in this comparison, performance plays second fiddle to the manner in which the player left town. Jagr left a legacy behind for money; Kordell fought to recapture a type of cult-hero status that only few can achieve in Pittsburgh, and even fewer can live up to.



    "I hate him. Everybody says I'm supposed to be polite when I talk to you all, but I hate him..." "He talks too much, he doesn't make sense, he's fat, he's sloppy, he acts like he's the best thing since sliced bread. He's ugly, he stinks, his mouth stinks, his breath stinks, and basically his soul stinks, too.

    "Not too many people have personalities like that and survive in life. I don't know how he does it."


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    Hall of Famer Iron Shiek's Avatar
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    Re: Most Unfair Treatment by Pittsburgh Fans

    Great article! I am not one to hold any grudges, so I don't hate any of these guys.

    Kordell - I just never understood how Kordell just forgot how to throw to the right team and seemingly lost his athletic ability all of a sudden. It was odd progression to a pretty good start of a career.

    O'Donnell - I still can't watch or barely can talk about that Super Bowl. He was a good qb, but I'll never fathom how such an agregious mistake can happen two time in such a large scale game. You can't have that happen, so I would nominate him as "the most ill-fated" Steeler. For god sakes, he let the trophy slip "out" of his hands...twice.

    Tommy - I just never liked the dude. Had some nice wins, but I was never sold. Thanks for getting hurt and opening it up for Ben. That is how I look at him, so by no means hated.
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  3. #3

    Re: Most Unfair Treatment by Pittsburgh Fans

    I also don't hate any of those players. But I feel Kordell got treated worse than any other Pittsburgh player. He brought alot of it on himself, he should have stuck with the Slash role, and he would have been one of the most beloved Steelers of all time. Otherwise if you are a Steeler QB and you never win a championship, the fans will treat you like a bum.

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    Hall of Famer Flasteel's Avatar
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    Re: Most Unfair Treatment by Pittsburgh Fans

    Quote Originally Posted by Iron Shiek
    Great article! I am not one to hold any grudges, so I don't hate any of these guys.

    Kordell - I just never understood how Kordell just forgot how to throw to the right team and seemingly lost his athletic ability all of a sudden. It was odd progression to a pretty good start of a career.

    I firmly believe that Kordell was screwed by the constant turnover at OC. The time frame in the article which outlines his rise, fall, and re-birth coincides with the dark clouds brought by Ray Sherman and Kevin Gilbride. If we could have kept Gailey or promoted Mularkey (wasn't he our TE's coach under Gailey?), then I think the history of Kordell Stewart would be a far different story.

    O'Donnell - I still can't watch or barely can talk about that Super Bowl. He was a good qb, but I'll never fathom how such an agregious mistake can happen two time in such a large scale game. You can't have that happen, so I would nominate him as "the most ill-fated" Steeler. For god sakes, he let the trophy slip "out" of his hands...twice.

    It is hard to fathom, but our WRs deserve an equal amount of blame. I think one of the big reasons O'Donnell gets lambasted is because he never redeemed himself and instead chased the big money to New York.

    Tommy - I just never liked the dude. Had some nice wins, but I was never sold. Thanks for getting hurt and opening it up for Ben. That is how I look at him, so by no means hated.


    I personnaly think the Tommy Maddox story was one of the greatest I've been witness to and I think he was the kind of humble guy that deserved one last moment in the sun. To go from a first round draft choice to selling insurance for years, then being voted NFL comeback POY, I think is pretty incredible. That said, the Jacksonville game was one of the worst quarterback performances I've ever seen and he no doubt single-handedly lost that game. He didn't deserve the death threats and trash on his yard, but that's a big mazza ball to leave behind as your legacy.



    "I hate him. Everybody says I'm supposed to be polite when I talk to you all, but I hate him..." "He talks too much, he doesn't make sense, he's fat, he's sloppy, he acts like he's the best thing since sliced bread. He's ugly, he stinks, his mouth stinks, his breath stinks, and basically his soul stinks, too.

    "Not too many people have personalities like that and survive in life. I don't know how he does it."


    -Kris Jenkins on Warren Sapp

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    Hall of Famer Djfan's Avatar
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    Re: Most Unfair Treatment by Pittsburgh Fans

    Quote Originally Posted by sd steel
    I also don't hate any of those players. But I feel Kordell got treated worse than any other Pittsburgh player. He brought alot of it on himself, he should have stuck with the Slash role, and he would have been one of the most beloved Steelers of all time. Otherwise if you are a Steeler QB and you never win a championship, the fans will treat you like a bum.
    This is it. He chose not to be all he could be to the team. I don't hold a grudge but if given time to talk with him, this would be topic one.
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    Hall of Famer Flasteel's Avatar
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    Re: Most Unfair Treatment by Pittsburgh Fans

    I was just thinking how interesting it is that the careers of these three quarterbacks (and four if you include Ben) are completely intertwined. It was the downfall of O'Donnell which (eventually) begot Kordell, whose fall from grace then gave rise to Maddox, who in turn blessed us all with his injury.



    "I hate him. Everybody says I'm supposed to be polite when I talk to you all, but I hate him..." "He talks too much, he doesn't make sense, he's fat, he's sloppy, he acts like he's the best thing since sliced bread. He's ugly, he stinks, his mouth stinks, his breath stinks, and basically his soul stinks, too.

    "Not too many people have personalities like that and survive in life. I don't know how he does it."


    -Kris Jenkins on Warren Sapp

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    Hall of Famer Flasteel's Avatar
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    Re: Most Unfair Treatment by Pittsburgh Fans

    Quote Originally Posted by Djfan
    Quote Originally Posted by sd steel
    I also don't hate any of those players. But I feel Kordell got treated worse than any other Pittsburgh player. He brought alot of it on himself, he should have stuck with the Slash role, and he would have been one of the most beloved Steelers of all time. Otherwise if you are a Steeler QB and you never win a championship, the fans will treat you like a bum.
    This is it. He chose not to be all he could be to the team. I don't hold a grudge but if given time to talk with him, this would be topic one.
    I'll disagree with that. I understand that you feel he may have been a far more exciting and valuable player had he stuck with the slash role (and I'm not going to necessarily disagree with that), but if he believed that he could be a successful quarterback, then that choice was the right one in his mind. It would be hard for anyone of us to be told that we could not get it done after you lead a team to an 11-5 record and a play or two from the Super Bowl in your first season as a starter. So it's not like he chose some self-serving motive over the success of his team. I thought the guy played his ass off for us and you could see the emotion he put into the game...it was infectious (well, except for the crying and kissing )



    "I hate him. Everybody says I'm supposed to be polite when I talk to you all, but I hate him..." "He talks too much, he doesn't make sense, he's fat, he's sloppy, he acts like he's the best thing since sliced bread. He's ugly, he stinks, his mouth stinks, his breath stinks, and basically his soul stinks, too.

    "Not too many people have personalities like that and survive in life. I don't know how he does it."


    -Kris Jenkins on Warren Sapp

  8. #8
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    Re: Most Unfair Treatment by Pittsburgh Fans

    Good read Fla...... I always thought Bubby Brister took alot of flak as well....

  9. #9

    Re: Most Unfair Treatment by Pittsburgh Fans

    Quote Originally Posted by NKySteeler
    Good read Fla...... I always thought Bubby Brister took alot of flak as well....

    He%^, Da(), Sh1& . . . Bubby had a cult following. He didn't get it nearly as bad as Kordell. I too found myself pulling for Stewart, he was infectious. I also grew very frustrated with him, but he provided an option for this team in that the opposing team had to spend a lot of their practice time gameplanning for him alone. In hindsight, i wish he had stuck with the Slash role, but the team wanted to make him its quarterback just as much as he wanted to be behind center, so I wouldn't go blaming him for that transition.

  10. #10

    Re: Most Unfair Treatment by Pittsburgh Fans

    The only former Steeler I loathe is Neil O'Donnell. And we all know why.

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